New Benton Harbor Education Foundation Formed and Underway

As the current school year reaches its final days, the opening days of the newly formed Benton Harbor Education Foundation are just getting underway, and revealed today that all governmental approvals have been granted and the foundation is now in the final stages of work to commence operations.

The new Board says that, as stated in the BHEF ByLaws, “The Foundation’s mission is to raise, steward, and distribute resources to enrich the education of students in the Benton Harbor Area Schools.”

The new organization is an independent Foundation registered as a “not-for-profit” with 501(c)3 approval from the Internal Revenue Service. It will partner with the Benton Harbor Area Schools and other groups within the larger community to provide resources for K-12 education. The message from the BHEF Board is very clear.  Our focus is the kids.  Our goal is to further their education and personal growth.

At the helm are Co-Chairs Jerry Price, who serves as Outreach & Development Director of the YMCA of SW Michigan, and Shari Weber, Chief Financial Officer of Honor Credit Union. They are backed by an outstanding board of other business and community leaders, including Treasurer Audrey Salesberry, a Certified Public Accountant with the firm of Kruggel Lawton, which speaks to the clear focus on fiduciary discipline.

The balance of the Board members are all accomplished and dedicated professionals who are highly committed to making the new Benton Harbor Education Foundation a success. Many of the Board members are Benton Harbor graduates and all have a long attachment with Michigan’s Great Southwest. They even have a celebrity on board in the form of Hollywood Actor Ernie Hudson who immediately accepted their request to join the Board. The entire board is listed below.

The organization is off to a great start but points to a significant amount of work underway right now as they work to establish fundraising presentations and to finalize the methods for donors to contribute.

The foundation’s Grants Committee is formalizing the guidelines for students, teachers and others to apply and receive awards going forward. A website is in progress and will be unveiled soon as the foundation prepares to approach the Benton Harbor Alumnae and the entire community with information and the opportunity to help.

The new board is also looking for interested and committed people who would like to join the foundation as working members who can provide administrative help and serve as members of the standing Committees.

The purpose behind today’s announcement is to share the good word, allowing it to be spread and the board promises to communicate further as soon as they are fully operational.

Co-Chairs Price and Weber say, “There are great kids in Benton Harbor. Collaborating with other community members and the Benton Harbor Area Schools to bring more support, resources, and avenues for success to these kids is exciting and humbling to be a part of.”

Here is the complete list of The Board of the Benton Harbor Education Foundation:

  • Jerry Price — Co-Chair
  • Shari Weber — Co-Chair
  • Audrey Salesberry — Treasurer
  • Martha Hesse — Secretary
  • Stephannnie Harvey Vandenberg — VP Fundraising/Marketing
  • Alloyd Blackmon — VP Grants/Projects
  • Patrick Allkins — Director
  • Ernie Hudson — Director
  • Isiah Newson — Director
  • Ebon Sanders — Director
  • Ricky Turner — Director
  • Damita Burton –Director
  • William Pierce –Director
  • Linda Miller — Member
  • Kevin Kellenberger — Member
  • Michael Birkholm — Consultant